The season began with such promise for Indiana this year. Many predicted the Hoosiers would make a bowl game. Some thought they could win seven or eight games.
The players themselves were especially energetic at the beginning of the season. This season was supposed to be different.
And yet, even as it began with such promise, this season will end without a bowl game ... again.
As I drove away from Ohio Stadium last night, I started to think about it all in a greater context: Has Indiana made progress? Have the Hoosiers improved this year? Has the program improved in the three years Kevin Wilson has been here?
The disappointing answer is: No.
There were some positive moments this season. There have been in Wilson's three years. But the consistent improvement Wilson always talks about has not been there.
Indiana seemed to peak as a offensive football team in October against Michigan and Minnesota. The frustrating thing is, the defense has actually played its best football lately. The two units have rarely played well together, and that dates back several years.
The whole goal of the offseason is to get your team ready for the biggest games. The games against Michigan and Minnesota were incredibly winnable. The Hoosiers lost both.
Sure, they were close games, but former coach Bill Lynch had plenty of close games he failed to win. He eventually was fired for it.
In Wilson's three years at IU, he is 2-10 in games decided by one score. One of those wins came over Indiana State.
In his three seasons, IU has won one, four, and four games with one still to play this season. The Hoosiers were 5-7 in Lynch's final season.
What I'm trying to say is, unfortunately, there hasn't been a lot of progress made in this program under Wilson. The Hoosiers broke all sorts of school offensive records on Saturday in Columbus, but the defense is in no better shape than it was when Lynch was in charge.
The talent is there, and is getting better every year. Will the results eventually come, too? That remains to be seen.